Don't quit your day job: Tips for splitting time with your business and another role

Dustin Johnson
By Dustin Johnson

Whether you have dreams of becoming your boss, starting the next Uber, or replacing your full-time income, a side hustle is a great way to start. Starting and growing a successful business without leaving your day job is never easier.

You can bet on yourself without putting all your eggs in one basket and placing unreasonable expectations on yourself.

This article is for two groups:

  1. Those who already have a side hustle but need guidance on making it work with their job.
  2. Those who plan on starting a side hustle and want to do their due diligence.

Does that sound like you?

Then let’s get into some tips for splitting time between your business and another role.

Oh, and one more thing before we get started.

We can’t deny that side hustles are necessary for many of us in this economy. We don’t all have the luxury of starting side hustles for fun or entirely out of passion. 

Lending Tree released a study that found two gripping statistics. One, 44% of Americans have a side hustle. Two, 71% of side hustlers aren’t sure they could pay all their bills without their side hustle.

Ease into it

The last thing you want to do when starting a side hustle is burn yourself out early on. Side hustle burnout is a real thing caused by taking on too many commitments at one time. Launching a side hustle while working full-time doesn’t need to be overwhelming. 

Take a relaxed mindset, allowing yourself time: time to get your business started, time to make mistakes, and time to understand how running a business works.

We based many of the tips in this article around the idea of running a marathon instead of a sprint.

Set boundaries with yourself, family, and work

When you start a side hustle, you need to consider its ramifications on your work and home life. Should you avoid starting a hustle because you have a hectic home life or a demanding job? No, these reasons could be extra motivation to get your business started.

What you do need to do is set clear boundaries.

Boundaries at work

We can’t stress how important it is not to violate your company’s employment contract. Most companies are ok with side hustles and can’t do anything to restrict what you do outside of company time. Check your employment contract. If that’s all settled, set boundaries towards not working on your side hustle at work or using company resources.

Commit to where you work

If you have a home office, make that your primary workspace. Decide what areas of your home could disrupt your life. Could working from bed change your dynamic with your spouse? These are all things to consider out of respect for yourself and others.

Decide on your non-negotiables

You need to decide early on what items you cannot and should not compromise on. Tangible examples include still picking the kids up from school, continuing family dinners, or setting a bedtime. 

What parts of your life matter the most to you?

Plant your flag in the ground and make a pact that you won’t cross those lines in the name of business.

Learn with your family

There’s a high chance you’ll do much of your work from home. Your new business is an adjustment for you and your family, who may struggle with you being home, but not having access to you. A lack of communication and understanding can breed contempt on both sides. You wonder why they don’t understand when you’re working and need to focus. They wonder why you can’t just “take a few minutes” to do XYZ. 

Instead, be proactive by opening the door for conversation early and setting expectations on both sides to limit interruptions.

Prioritize self-care

Set time in your schedule to participate in things you enjoy. These self-care activities, regardless of size, should make your non-negotiable list. Starting a business means signing up for more work, stress, and uncertainty. You need to counterbalance that by increasing your awareness of your needs.

Your mental health is another reason why easing into your business is a good idea. You will demand the most from yourself if you have a goal-oriented or self-driven personality. These personality types can run you into the ground if you’re not careful. Give yourself the time to take breaks during the day, disengage from work, and do things you enjoy. 

Set attainable goals

Have you heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals? These goals allow you to stay on track with your goals and measure progress.

Here’s what S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Set micro goals that focus on the leading measures in your business. Instead of setting the goal to get ten new customers, ask yourself, how many phone calls, door knocks, emails, etc., will it take to reach that goal? Then reverse engineer that answer into a production goal.

For example, it takes you ten cold calls to set one meeting. On average, if one in every three meetings turns into a new customer, you should make 30 phone calls.

Have a schedule

With 24 hours in a day, you need to plan how to manage your time.

Here’s a basic framework you can use:

  • Pick an amount of time you can comfortably dedicate to your business. Let’s say 20 hours/per week.
  • Break your business down into different activities, for example, marketing, sales, launch, service delivery, etc.
  • Divide your time into each business activity. 

There are two benefits to setting a schedule. The tactical benefit, as we explained, helps you manage your time, avoid burnout, and set expectations for how much work you can complete.

The second benefit is more of a mental one.

We overestimate how much we can accomplish in a day but underestimate how much we can achieve in a year. Setting a schedule isn’t to ensure you don’t work less than 20 hours but that you do the opposite. Instead, limit yourself to a set amount of time and run the marathon instead of the sprint. 

Don’t be afraid to delegate

The “H-word” may send chills down your bones in the early stages of your business. Hiring means going down roads that you aren’t prepared for financially. Truthfully, you may feel like you’re not ready for it, so why even bother?

Just like learning to walk, hiring is best done with baby steps. And just because your side hustle is a part-time occupation doesn’t mean you can’t hire help. With a side hustle, you have less time than a full-time business owner. You have all the expertise, drive, and maybe even more funding from your job. You can leverage that by delegating key growth areas in your business.

Prioritize taxes and finances early

As soon as possible, begin tracking and managing taxes and business filings, so you never miss a deadline. Starting early can help you set your business up for success in tax management. Unpaid tax bills, accounting errors, and missed deadlines can add up fast. Dodging tax obligations puts your business in a precarious financial position and can leave your company in the red. 

The best practice is to start early. Set up good bookkeeping practices and keep accurate records of your cash flow. That way, you can confidently claim deductions when it’s time to file. You'll know you’ve got the receipts to back up your expenses.

Building a solid foundation starts with educating yourself on your tax obligations, how to take deductions, and when you need to make payments. Running a side hustle can be dangerous to your finances and health if you don’t have a solid plan.

We recently ran a webinar, The Danger of the Side Hustle discussing just that.

Dustin Johnson
By Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson is a Senior Tax Research Specialist at ComplYant. Prior to joining ComplYant, he spent over eleven years performing tax research at the world’s largest tax preparation company. Dustin holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Juris Doctor. Outside of work, Dustin enjoys biking and spending time with his family.

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